Rebecca's suicide tragic reminder of nation's bullying epidemic


youth sports bullying

Rebecca Ann Sedwick will never have the chance to dance at a prom, walk down the aisle or raise kids of her own.

Rebecca, if you haven’t heard, is the 12-year-old Lakeland, Fla., youngster who was so relentlessly and savagely bullied that instead of heading to school one day last week she went to an abandoned concrete plant, climbed a tower and jumped to her death.

A beautiful young girl gone.

A community in shock.

And yet another bullying-related obituary gets written.

Authorities say that as many as 15 girls tormented Rebecca for more than a year, bombarding her with chilling online messages like “you should die” and “why don’t you go kill yourself.”

We’ve reached the point now where it’s beyond heart-breaking how many children are being driven to suicide to escape the bullying blitz overtaking our schools.

Children every day are suffocating in fear – and often in silence – while enduring incredibly horrific treatment.

Yet, bullying isn’t just confined to our school’s hallways and classrooms. It’s rampant on social media and is happening everywhere we look.

And it’s not just being committed by youngsters either.

Just this week five high school football coaches in New Jersey – a mix of volunteers and paid employees – were suspended for alleged bullying.

One report alleges that the coaches nicknamed a player “the riddler” because he was known for asking lots of questions during practice, and that they even went so far as to draw question marks on his jersey.

These behaviors aren’t isolated incidents, though. They’re happening regularly and they’re carving young lives up in the process.

And it’s gotta stop.

Lots of schools, groups and organizations that cater to children are on top of this issue and are doing outstanding work, but plenty of others are failing kids miserably.

I think it’s safe to say that most of us – whether we’re parents, teachers, coaches, you name it – can do more.

We can pay closer attention to what is going on. We can become more involved in kids’ lives. We can make a difference.

Last month our organization unveiled its free Bullying Prevention training program to help arm coaches and parents with the information and resources to protect the young athletes that they are raising or coaching.

Knowledge is power, and the more we all understand bullying and the indicators that it’s going on, the more effective we can be in preventing it.

Now, what’s most important here is that Rebecca Ann Sedwick was laid to rest on Monday.  Twelve years of life is so unimaginably short. And her family and friends will now suffer a lifetime of grief.

I’d like to think that somehow, some way, we can make sure this doesn’t happen to another child where we live.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the National Alliance for Youth Sports.

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